• Building a Better Climber: Final Part
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 7
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 6
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 5
  • The Training Effect: Methods by Steve House
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 4
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 3
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 2
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 1
  • Catch of the Day
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Too Hard for a Caveman
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Cheap Tricks
  • How to Mentally Train
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Training While Hungry
  • HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Using Your Hangboard the Right Way
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dialing in Crampon Technique
  • Ultimate Strength
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Beat the Ice-Climbing Pump
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Training With an Injury
  • Avoiding the Gear-Placement Pump
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    Create or Else: Chongo
    Create or Else: Chongo

    Can Old Guys Get Stronger?


    As an older climber with a long history of climbing and athletics, I find that age, lifestyle, work commitments and other responsibilities have been taking their toll on performance. While I still maintain a dedicated and refined training routine, progress seems to be stalling. Any advice from the coach that will help the baby-boomer crowd stay in the game?

    — Richard M. Wright, Lakewood, CO

    You can't realistically expect to get stronger or fitter as a veteran if you have been climbing and training all your life. Only veterans who are new to climbing can hope for pure strength improvements. Remember, however, that climbing is not track and field. Tactics, skill and technique play a larger role in our sport than strength gains. Improvements in overall climbing performance are truly in the cards for older climbers, whether novice or experienced, if you use brain over brawn. I’m not saying don’t train; but over time, training should focus more on technique and you should incorporate more recovery into your schedule. Without seeing your program, I can’t say why you are stalling, but if you are still doing the same volume as you did when you were younger, then inadequate recovery is the most likely reason for the plateau. Less is more as a veteran, and if you rest more you will gain more.

    In addition, completely avoid high-intensity exercises such as campusing or deadhanging. The extra five or 10 percent you may or may not gain by doing these high-impact exercises is not worth the six months out with injury. The older you get, the more the scales should tip towards endurance training, and I would suggest cutting powerful bouldering out altogether by the time you hit 60. Pay extra attention to nutrition and hydration and get sufficient sleep. I would also advise regular antagonist training sessions (including push-ups and reverse wrist curls) as these become exponentially important to stave off injuries.

    Above all else, don’t stray from trying to climb with perfect technique. Give yourself continuous technique prompts—laser-precise foot placements, straight arms, twist in on steep terrain, regulate the breathing, and so on.

    Pay close attention to your warm-up and listen to your body as if you were tuning a piano. Warm-up using a pyramid sequence of routes—not too many, nor too few, and in the perfect ascending grade order. [See Ask the Coach No. 172 for advice on warming up]. Get your rest just right between each burn, and above all else pick the right routes! The older you get the more demoralized you may become if you select routes that are all about raw power or withering endurance. Stick to climbs that require a bit of skill and subtlety and you can continue to meet the challenge long into the future. [See No. 167 for Coach Gresham’s comprehensive article on training for veterans.]

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